South Asia is home to about one fourth of the world’s population and occupies only 3% of the global land area, making it the most densely populated geographical region in the world. Predominantly, the weather and climate of South Asia is dominated by the SouthWest monsoon. Almost 70-80% of the total annual rainfall in most parts of the region occurs during the monsoon season (June–September) and the monsoon can have great socioeconomic impacts on sectors of the countries of this region. Seasonal to inter-annual variability of monsoon rainfall, both in amount and distribution, often results in severe droughts or floods over this densely populated region, with large-scale impacts on the agrarian societies in terms of agricultural production and food security. As there is a strong link between the impacts of the summer monsoon and the overall economic condition of South Asian countries, in order to plan and implement programmes to encourage sustainable economic growth, South Asia requires ever more accurate, reliable and useful information about the monsoon as well as early warnings about monsoon activity.
The monsoon is a strongly coupled phenomenon in which ocean, atmosphere and large land mass are integral components of the system. The science behind the South Asian monsoon and its variability on different time and space scales is quite complex and monsoon prediction is still considered to be a difficult problem. However, the last few decades have seen remarkable advances in the understanding and prediction with longer lead time of several aspects of the monsoon, mainly the rainfall strength and its pattern.
Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) are being conducted in many parts of the world with the aim of providing consensus seasonal climate information on a regional scale. In line with the goals of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), RCOFs also provide an opportunity for the providers of climate services and sectoral users to interact in order to strengthen and demonstrate the use and value of climate services in sectoral decision-making. The South Asian Seasonal Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) was established in 2010 by the South Asian members of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Since 2010, SASCOF sessions have been organized every year just prior to the summer monsoon season. Given the large benefits derived from the annual summer SASCOFs, the first winter SASCOF was organized in October 2015. Based on the recommendations of the first SASCOF, capacity building training workshop for participants from South Asia was started from SASCOF-2. Conducting of Climate Services User Forums (CSUF) In conjunction with SASCOF forum meeting commenced in 2014.